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The Christian LeBlanc Interview – The Young and the Restless

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This week’s special On-Air On-Soaps birthday boy is three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Christian LeBlanc.  Known for his extraordinary performances as the quirky legal eagle, Michael Baldwin, whose past and family put the “D” in dysfunctional, LeBlanc is heralded as one of the greatest dramatic daytime performers ever to hit our small screens.  But, many have also noticed the amazing timing and comedic brilliance of this guy, both on and off the screen.  Just a few weeks ago, after watching soap pal, Days of our Lives star Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe) take her turn as guest-host of the live SNL type sketch comedy show in Los Angeles, ACME Saturday Night, LeBlanc decided he would like to give it a whirl!  His colleagues and pals already knew this seemed like a perfect fit for his talents.  And so this Saturday night, August 28th, Christian (in front of a live audience, and also streaming live to audiences on the web) will tackle a new frontier in his career, as part of his birthday celebration.

In this funny, candid, and revealing interview, Christian details: the process of putting together the ACME show, his hilarious hosting stint at the recent Creative Arts Daytime Emmy Awards ceremonies, and the importance of trying new outlets for yourself at any age.  But that’s not all!  For Y&R fans, we get a preview of what’s next for Michael Baldwin, discussing Michael and Phyllis’ on-screen bff friendship, the ending of the Lauren/Sarah Smythe doppelganger storyline, and more.  And, when As the World Turns signs off the airwaves in a few weeks, who else but LeBlanc can put into words how much the show has meant, because it is the place where we first saw his remarkable talents.

So, let’s send birthday wishes his way, eat some cake, and get ready to watch Christian this Saturday night!  To get tickets if you are in the Southern California area, or to watch the show online, visit ACME’s website by clicking here!

MICHAEL:

First off, Happy Birthday Christian!  So for the occasion, you decided to top this week off with trying your hand at sketch-comedy?

CHRISTIAN:

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I always do some new adventure for my birthday, be it an external or internal one, but this is also something I have always wanted to do.  People for years have been telling me to do comedy, comedy, comedy, and stand-up!  I would say, “No.  That is the hardest thing in the world.  You have to write your own material and work it out.”  It’s something I would love to try, but it’s one of those things you put off forever.  So, finally like my French and piano playing (I started speaking French at my last birthday, and then I started the piano playing) this is something different I have always wanted to attempt or learn.

MICHAEL:

The good thing about this is… it’s sketch comedy.  I would die if I ever had to do a stand-up comedy routine!

CHRISTIAN:

I had friends from New Orleans when I first moved to New York that would do stand-up, and it was my job to clap and laugh, and to drown the drunks out. (Laughs)  To see Nadia Bjorlin get up and do ACME Saturday Night the other week, I did not know what it was supposed to be like.  Both Eden Riegel (Heather, Y&R) and Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe Y&R) had told me that show is very funny, since they both hosted it before.  I just meant to laugh and clap because that is what a friend does, but it was great.

MICHAEL:

Did your cast mates, Eden or Elizabeth, give you any tips in preparation for Saturday night?

CHRISTIAN:

They were telling me to do this show before I even showed up to watch Nadia’s!  Elizabeth was going, “Oh, you would be perfect!”  And I would go, “Elizabeth, weren’t you nervous?”  And she said, “Not till the day of… before that I was fine.”  I was like, “Oh, shut up…bitch!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

You will be great!  But what did the ACME troupe pitch you for the sketches?

CHRISTIAN:

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I cannot tell you, because I want you to be surprised.  As I got my scenes pitched to me earlier this week, it was an amazing process to watch.  They come up to you one-on-one and pitch the scenes to you they wrote.  The writing part of sketch comedy is what amazes me.

MICHAEL:

But recently, you did some comedy shtick and wrote it, too, when you hosted the 37th Annual Creative Arts Emmys, correct?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes.  For the Creative Arts Emmys in June, I did write that bit in it in two days.  I got a lot of response from it, but I knew in my heart that I needed more time.  It was really fun and it was terrifying.  I mean, first I walked out in my underwear, and you think after that there is nothing! (Laughs) And, I read a letter of apology to our wardrobe department.  There were 54 categories to get through, and I would only have one or two minute increments in between.  So I made this up; that I had a fight with wardrobe and that I had to read this letter of apology, and then later on, I did a slideshow.  I made slides of actors before and after make-up and hair.  And in presenting this I said with a straight face, “I am going to show you just how much power the Creative Arts Emmys have on the day to day lives of performers.”  Then we started showing the slides, and I said, “Here is Nadia Bjorlin before…” So I had Jeanne Cooper come in to Y&R with no make-up and hair not made up, and that was the shot.  And after that, there was a beautiful shot of Nadia Bjorlin.  Then I go, “This is James Scott (EJ, DAYS) before.”  James Scott is very shy and does not like to be in hair and make-up.  And so, it’s a picture of Patti Denney and Kathy Jones from Y&R’s make-up department dragging Jeanne Cooper on the floor.  It had her kicking and screaming into make-up and hair.  So then I go, “Look what happens afterwards!”  Then, it was a beautiful picture of James Scott.  Then I go, “Here’s me. Christian before…” which is a nice head shot of me. And, “This is Christian after”, and it’s Brandon Beemer (Owen, B&B) without clothes.  The last one is, “Here’s Jeanne Cooper before make-up.” And, it’s a skeleton, and then the after picture was Jeanne Cooper.  Jeanne pulled in a favor. God bless her.  That is the closest I ever got to stand-up.  Some of it sounded like it hit, some of it I was not so sure. We did this sober-ish. (Laughs)  And more people have come to me the months since then, and told me it added some “pop”.  It was only five minutes in the whole three hours of the presentation of the Emmys. 

MICHAEL:

So let’s go back to the ACME pitch meeting.  I am intrigued by this.  (Laughs)  So you have the right to refuse the pitches, and go, “yes or no”?

CHRISTIAN:

They all come pitch you.  They all take their turn, and they are all very excited if their sketch gets picked.  This is their big chance.  You have a stack of 15 skits, and you go up on stage and you act them all out, and they direct it a little.  They give some feedback and I listen.  Then, they bring out props, etc, and we do it full force.  Then you go to the back of the theatre with the director and the producer, and they speak frankly. “What do you think?”  I know what I am comfortable with; I mean there was a proctology exam that did not make the cut.  But funny.  So I relied on them, and I picked the ones that I was not that comfortable with.  Doing the opening, that part of it is comfortable for me.  And so you pick four scenes, and they round the show out with some of their own sketches, because you need to change and get ready for the next sketch.  So, my appearances are spaced out.

MICHAEL:

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Did they do research on your career, and who you play on Y&R, your Emmys, etc. to perhaps integrate bits of that into the show?

CHRISTIAN:

They do their research.  They ask you ten questions.  One of them is, “What would you like to avoid?”  In which I answered, “I would like to avoid being not funny!”

MICHAEL:

So it’s always a work in progress?

CHRISTIAN:

I don’t get scripts again till mid-week, and I will tape a video short on Thursday. Nadia’s video was hysterical, with the pepper spray going, “Are you here to rape me?”  So I don’t know till Saturday, when we rehearse all day and go do the show.   I know with the four sketches I picked, they will have re-written them and done the fixes we talked about.  It’s a work in progress the whole time.

MICHAEL:

Are you a fan of Saturday Night Live? Over the years, have you watched it regularly?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes, I am a big fan of sketch comedy.  I love Kids in the Hall and I love SNL.  But even watching SNL from beginning to end, it’s bad.  But that is comedy.

MICHAEL:

Will your cast mates be in attendance this Saturday?

CHRISTIAN:

Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) will be there, and James Scott, Nadia and Brandon, too.  I am going to have a ball.

MICHAEL:

Ok, what day was your birthday, and how old are you?  If I recall, for fifty you took your clothes off in a sexy photo shoot!

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CHRISTIAN:

My birthday was Wednesday.  I am fifty-two this year.  For fifty, I did the nude shots, which play, just so you know, in to my opening monologues.  I continually set goals and things. They are things I have saved up that I always wanted to do.  One of them, as I mentioned earlier was piano class and the other was singing.  I also kind of started the French lessons last year.  My French tutor is from Paris, and you do these batches of interviews for the Monte Carlo Television Festival, and in one of the articles, it says, “Christian LeBlanc speaks French well!”  So I am printing that and framing it and putting it in my dressing room. (Laughs)  It’s one of my best birthday gifts ever.  This year, I want to do lots of small trips.  One of the things I want to go do is to touch one of the largest living things in the world, which is the Sequoia.  Last year I went all over England, and I was with all these great British people.  I said, “If I want to go to a castle, you just shut up and go!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So what can we tell Y&R fans; of why they should come down to the theatre on Saturday?  Will there be a take-off of The Young and the Restless opening, perhaps?

CHRISTIAN:

No, I don’t think so.  But you never know with this group.  I would say for fans; it’s the most fun they can have with their clothes on!  Come see it, because it’s just like a train-wreck… you won’t be able to take your eyes away!

MICHAEL:

It is really important now for daytime actors to expand their reach, especially with the difficult times the industry has fallen into.

CHRISTIAN:

The soap business is hard right now.  It’s hard to do what I want to do anyway, which is I want to make gold every time I walk out there and say a line.

MICHAEL:

Coming up on Y&R, will we see more of Michael involved with the Lauren/Jill feud, or perhaps, something else?

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CHRISTIAN:

You will see legal Michael quite soon, I believe, and you will see fireworks!  I have not filmed them yet or seen the scripts yet, but I am seeing them coming my way.  It should be very interesting.

MICHAEL:

I have to tell you, I thought your scenes at the culmination of the Lauren/Sarah Doppelganger storyline, where Tracey E. Bregman played both parts was sensational.  The mirror scenes alone were great drama!

CHRISTIAN:

My ego was thinking when I was sitting there with Tracey Bregman going, “Oh, I would have loved triplets or quadruplets!”  Tracey is like “Oh, God!”  We did the big ending that was a take off on the motion picture, The Lady from Shanghai, and that was a 5AM shoot.  I was never more proud of everyone!

MICHAEL:

Christian, you have told me in previous interviews, it is always something you look for in scripts, and in the performance, to take something and make them real Michael moments, no matter what is given to you.

CHRISTIAN:

When you are patient it will come, and like anyone, I have a big enough ego.  It is a hard thing to do, and you can do all this wonderful work, but it’s also so technical.  The mirror stuff was brilliant and yet hard.  I had a ball, but you had to work through all the technicalities, and I imagine it’s like working with CGI.  You really have to work as an actor.  But from all that, I had some of the most difficult and wonderful scenes with Tracey, and I got to have the arguments with Tracey that Lauren and Michael can’t have, but Sarah Smythe and Michael had.  First, my wife telling me she doesn’t love me anymore. Then, getting a phone call where my wife told me she slept with someone else.  And then, getting a phone call from my wife sounding like she did in the old days, and how that kills you in an argument when you are breaking up.  As an actor, I did not have to look at Tracey as Sarah.  I just had to look at her as Lauren.  I did not have to buy any weird scheme.  All I had to play was a simple theme between a man and his wife, who he adores, and he is now broken-hearted, and protecting his son.  So when you don’t want to play the happy couple, and you want to sink your teeth into something, this is the stuff to do that with.

MICHAEL:

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What would happen if they SORAS’d Michael and Lauren’s son Fenmore, and he was all of a sudden a 13-year-old?

CHRISTIAN:

They could and would.  I think Fenmore now is at a great age, and the actor, Robbie Tucker (Fenmore), is so wonderful. We have a ball.

MICHAEL:

Would you want Fenmore to be a problem child?

CHRISTIAN:

I want Fenmore to be different.  I want him to be a smart-ass because I play him that way.  He would be Michael back to me, you know how children sometimes are, like little Michael and big Michael… really smart and verbal, which he is.  And, he is very capable of playing that.  I make him a hellion when he is not even there or on-screen.  I think for Michael, it’s much more interesting to have a child that is wearing you out!

MICHAEL:

Michelle Stafford and you are great friends off-screen, and on Y&R, Michael and Phyllis are the best of friends through thick and thin.  Did the through line of that great on-screen relationship develop because of your real life bond?  Recent scenes where Michael was there for Phyllis, as he watched the disintegration of her marriage to Nick were electric. Why do you think the Michael/Phyllis scenes work so well?

CHRISTIAN:

It is because I think Michelle is a phenomenal actress, if not one of the best actresses on television, and she makes me better.  So it’s the excitement of all your senses coming alive when you are being challenged.

MICHAEL:

She draws you in as an actress.

CHRISTIAN:

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Our styles mesh, like Tracey and mine mesh.  I am so lucky that I also have people in my on-screen family such as Greg Rikaart (Kevin, Y&R), that whenever we have scenes together they are effortless.  But with Michelle in particular, because it’s something you don’t see, that is why people are drawn to it.  You know Michael and Phyllis were lovers once!  You have this great relationship between two ex-lovers, and they are a man and woman.  I don’t think you usually see that dynamic as much on other soaps. Then there is that they both have this evil background.  So, there is this real hint of mischief about it, and a hint of trouble-a-brewing always… either with Michael or her.  They understand that.  Not only do you have two kinds of shady people with their past, you have two ex-lovers, and so they know each other. The biggest compliment I have received in scenes with Michelle is that you can see they (Michael and Phyllis) have been friends a long time, and they have that comfort with each other and they act that way.

MICHAEL:

With Lauralee Bell’s recent return visit to Y&R as Christine, will they continue to whitewash his attempted rape and his attacks and harassment on Christine years ago?  In your mind, is this swept under the carpet?

CHRISTIAN:

No.  I showed it in the scenes I had, and there is a great one coming up.  It’s short, but that is the joy of it.  You can do something like that in a scene with just a look.  It’s not forgotten, and I don’t forget it.  Anytime Michael is with Christine it is electric, because this is part of his past, and you don’t see one another that often. There is always that with Christine.  You cannot let something that juicy go.  Thank God, the writers gave us a sweet little hard scene to play.  In a few minutes you had to play years of history.  You don’t need a three act opera, and that is the goal of a good actor.

MICHAEL:

We are three weeks away now from the ending of As the World Turns, the show that got you your first big break and start in daytime.  Can you comment on ATWT going off the air?  What are your thoughts on it?  It must hold an incredibly special place in your heart.

CHRISTIAN:

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It’s just sad.  All things come to an end.  An actor’s life is an actor’s life.  We are gypsies and we move around.  We have gotten some great people on our show from there and now we are bringing on Maura West (Carly, ATWT, soon-to-be Diane, Y&R) and I am so excited for us.  She is a heavy hitter.  But, Don Hastings (Bob, ATWT) and Kathryn Hays (Kim, ATWT) they are amazing people.  I would not be here if it wasn’t for the people who taught me how to act on that show.  I did not even have acting classes before I started on As the World Turns, and they believed in me.  The legends were there.  Betty Rea was the casting director extraordinaire, and Mary Ellis-Bunim was the producer, who now does Real World. Julianne Moore was with me, Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Margaret Colin, Justin Deas, and I know all these guys.  It taught me to speak a language that has gotten me through and propelled me.  If I am a good actor at all, it’s because of these people, and them giving me a chance.  I mean, I was raw.  It took a Betty Rea, who auditioned me to get my break there, and she would yell at me like a son, and I would answer!

MICHAEL:

Some fans have a hard time with Y&R now, with the influx of many younger and new characters to the canvas, or recasts, while not concentrating on the core signature characters of their soap.  One thought you hear throughout the industry recently, is that in order for daytime soaps to stay on the air, they have to trim the fat of their cast and get down to brass tacks, or the bare bones.  What are your thoughts on core characters vs. adding newbies, with the state of the genre right now?

CHRISTIAN:

Everything can be done right.  You want great writing, so pay your writers. You want actors who can really act.  If you do all those things, and you want to bring more people and new people in, it’s all fine.  As an actor, you want to work all the time because we are all whores.  My thing is always jokingly, Christian LeBlanc’s, The Young and the Restless. (Laughs) That is forever my pitch.  If I have an Emmy, it’s because I had great actors around me.  I so know that.  I think rather than look at it from numbers perspective, if it can be written well, and the actors can step-up, then you have no problems.  But you have to start with the basics.

MICHAEL:

When you do courtroom scenes, and have so much legalese to perform, do you ever just break out laughing from the difficulty and the wordiness of it all?  

CHRISTIAN:

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Those are my best moments.  I am the only one who loves court.  I will swear to you now, I am the only one off set that lights up when there is a five page monologue.  I have to tell you it was my first months on the show, and they gave me my first case, and it was about a black student who was suing the school system.  I gave a speech, and I am telling you they had 12 on the jury and those extra’s cried, and that is all I cared about.  That was like doing theatre.  When you are in the court you are given that little extra allowance to be dramatic, because it is a performance, of sorts. They give you smart and wonderful, beautiful words.  They give us freedom to correct things from our character’s past that aren’t relevant, that we know from our time on the show.  It gives me, in the courtroom, an opportunity to show a darker side of Michael, too.  When he is a shark in the courtroom and goes for the jugular, those are great moments.  We laugh and joke off-set, but when I am in the court, I take it very seriously and make it work.

MICHAEL:

Since we began this interview about being comedic, who do you think is funny?

CHRISTIAN:

I think I am a big one for watching the Roasts.  I have not seen the Comedy Central David Hasselhoff Roast yet, but I have it on tape.  I think Alec Baldwin is hysterical and he is a great actor.  I think of him on 30 Rock and him hosting Saturday Night Live and doing “Schweaty Balls”, is one of the funniest and most hysterical things.  I like Steve Martin, back in the day when he was hosting SNL all the time.  Gilda Radner was brilliant and genius.  Those people wrote their material and also were great actors.  I think that is what makes good comedy… you really have to get commitment.  And, at the ACME Theatre Company they do that, too. You think it’s scattered chaos, but it’s not.  It’s probably why it’s difficult.  It’s all in the timing and the precision of surgery.  Timing is not something that can always be taught to you, it has to be something very innate.

MICHAEL:

Are you the true funny man on the set of Y&R that everyone says you are, or is there someone else?

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CHRISTIAN:

I think Joshua Morrow (Nick, Y&R) is probably the only person who can make me dissolve into laughter.  He is funny, and he is that dry, intelligent type of funny.  You would never know it, but he is!

MICHAEL:

Ok, Christian.  I will be there on Saturday night to clap loud and drown out the drunks for you, no matter what happens.  But I am sure you will be fantastic and have us all in stitches!

CHRISTIAN:

When you bring the flowers for me, don’t throw them overhand… throw them underhand.  Remember, you’re not trying to kill someone! (Laughs)

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Mitch
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Mitch

Great interview, very informative!

Doe
Guest
Doe

Michael, I am so excited that you have his interview. Christian happens to be my favorite actor. His acting is always flawless and gets to me everytime he does something extraordinary, which is always! I wish I could see his performance Saturday, but I don’t live in the south. Good luck to you, Christian. I know you will knock them dead…. Great interview, Michael….

Candice Ryan
Guest
Candice Ryan

I love Christian and Tracey together. They were incredible during the Sarah/Lauren story and both deserve Emmy’s this year. Congratulations Christina on another birthday and birthday challenge!

And here’s to a Christian/Tracey Young and the Restless!!!!

Judy L-E (Facebook)
Guest
Judy L-E (Facebook)

Great interview, Christian….good luck Sat. night

Rob
Guest
Rob

God I hope I look as good at 52!!

scarlett christensen
Guest
scarlett christensen

Does anyone know if michelle stafford and christian leblanc are an item since
there together all the time.

Dee
Guest
Dee

I am a little late in making a comment..but I do Love Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin) he is the only reason i even watch Y and R..his acting is superb and his looks are awesome..and the man has a fabulous body..I would so love to see him more on Y and R without the suit on and making some hot love with Lauren..but we get nothing as CLB fans and TEB fans..its disgusting..and I think the show has deteriorated to nonesense and so plot driven it makes no sense most of the time..Thanks for the article Michael..hope you have many… Read more »

General Hospital

WATCH: The Cast of ‘Studio City’ Talk On the Latest Five Episodes & The Making of the Critically-Acclaimed Digital Drama

It’s one of the most talked about digital dramas out there, with a look and feel all its own, containing smart, witty, and dramatic plots and dialogue, and stellar performances abound.

In Amazon Prime’s Studio City, the story about life on a soap in front of the camera juxtaposed with the often harsh reality of life behind the scenes, will have any fan of the genre getting a kick out of some of the very familiar soap tropes contained within balanced with the five-hankie moments throughout  And now, Studio City has dropped their latest five episodes picking the story back up from where it left off.

Michael Fairman chatted with the cast of Studio City in his latest interview for The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube. Those taking part in this virtual conversation included: Sean Kanan (Sam), Sarah Joy Brown (Laurie), Tristan Rogers (Doc), Carolyn Hennesy (Gloria), Scott Turner Schofield (Max), Anna Maria Horsford (Jolene), and Justin Torkildesn (Jacob).  Ronn Moss, who also appears in the series playing a version of himself, was filming a movie during the scheduling of this chat, but his presence is felt when some hilarious moments featuring him and Sean Kanan were discussed.

Soap fans know these actors very well.  Kanan, Brown, Hennesy and Rogers have all, or are presently appearing, on General Hospital.  B&B fans recognize Torkilden, Horsford, Moss, and Schofield along with Kanan from their work on the CBS Daytime drama.

Getting a show up and running and then taped during the Covid-19 pandemic is no easy task as Kanan shared in the group interview.  As well, Anna Maria Horsford and Sarah Joy Brown share how they came to their parts and the rapid-fire pace in which their scenes were shot.  Tristan Rogers, who won a Daytime Emmy last year for his performance as Doc, gives another heartbreaking turn, and reveals his thoughts on the work he did, plus shares his remembrances of his late friend and GH co-star, John Reilly.

Scott Turner Schofield talks about how Sean and his wife Michele Kanan, two of the creators of the show, have given him and the transgender community a space with Max’s storyline in Studio City.  GH favorite, Carolyn Hennesy shares how she crafted her role of Gloria, the executive producer, after Jill Farren Phelps, and Daytime Emmy winner Justin Torkildsen shares how he wound up with a part in the digital drama and the scenes he shares with Hennesy.

You can check out the full Studio City cast interview below.  Then let us know, have you checked out the series? What have been your favorite moments and performances in it? Let us know in the comment section.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Mishael Morgan Talks Amanda’s Gut-Wrenching Scenes With Her Mother, Romance with Devon & Vice-President Kamala Harris’ Historic Moment

Since Mishael Morgan returned to The Young and the Restless as Hilary’s twin, Amanda Sinclair, it’s been a slow burn for the character.  However, recent revelations of Amanda’s childhood past have exposed the emotional wounds and the inner fight of this legal eagle, who is now poised for a romance with her late sister’s husband, Devon Hamilton (Bryton James)!

And who better to take on the challenge of trying to make Amanda and Devon a couple to root for then the talented Morgan.  In recent scenes, viewers watched as Amanda learned the harsh reality from her biological mother, Naya (Ptosha Storey), that she gave her and her sister up at birth and never really regretted it! Mishael played those scenes as you would expect for all they were worth and then some.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with the Trinidadian-Canadian Morgan, as the United States marked Martin Luther King Day on Monday – a holiday that holds a special place for her – and then the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President of the United States on Wednesday and its historical significance.

 

While Mishael shares her thoughts on these moments of our time, we also do a deep-dive into how she created a second life in Genoa City and the challenges of playing a twin and making her unique and different, plus what fans should look forward to in the months ahead, which to us looks like it could be a love triangle between Elena (Brytni Sarpy), Devon, and Amanda.  And, as the second anniversary of the death of Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) is fast approaching, Morgan opens up about the impact her former co-star had on her daytime career.  Here’s what Mishael had to say about it all below.

Photo: AP

Yesterday was such a historic day watching the swearing in ceremony of Kamala Harris, as Vice-President of the United States.  She is the first woman, first Black woman, first Indian woman, so many firsts to hold this office.  I just wanted to get your thoughts from watching it.  What was it like for you?

MISHAEL:  For me it was such a beautiful moment, and such a defining moment because now there is no person in America who can feel like they can’t do it all, that they can’t make it to the highest level of office, or at least one of the highest levels of office.  I think that is going to transform this country and the world in many ways because the rest of the world really does pay attention to American politics, and to what goes on in America.  I think it will really have a ripple effect throughout the entire world.  For me, it was so exciting to see this moment actually come to fruition because I think that the impact is even greater than we all could imagine.  You never know who you’re inspiring.

Photo: Hustory.com

It was really amazing, and this was also right after Martin Luther King Day and I know you produced your “I Have a Dream” Project.  How was the holiday for you?

MISHAEL:  It was funny because even though I did the MLK project, I didn’t really think that it was something I could really explain to my son.  Then, yesterday my son really wanted to know: “What was Martin Luther King Day about?  Why was it a holiday?”  It was so interesting because I had to come up with a way to explain it to a five-year-old, and what I came up with was so basic but so true.  I just said, “This was a day when Martin Luther King, a very famous man, who was famous because he stood up for everybody’s rights, and he marched to make sure that everybody can do the same things in this country as everyone else no matter how they look,” and that’s what he was.  He wasn’t just a champion for just Black lives.  I think he is a champion for equality, and he is a champion for making sure that we always remember to see each other the same.

Is that what inspired you originally to do your project?

MISHAEL:  Yes.  100%.  I remember being inspired by Martin Luther King as a child when I was learning about him for Black History Month and stuff like that, and then when all of the social unrest happened, I just remembered him again, and it was something that I wanted to explore.  When I started reading about him again, I just became so inspired by him all over again that I wanted to do something, and that’s what really inspired me to do the “I Have a Dream” Project.

Photo: Getty

I just hope that we will make strides in our country in stomping out systemic racism – it’s such a deeply-entrenched issue in our society.  A lot of people talk, but we need action to bring change to the system.

MISHAEL:  That’s the thing, I think that this moment, you can’t stop – like the moment when Kamala Harris got sworn in as our Vice-President – you can’t stop the train now because strides will be made that the next generation will look at as normal, and of what it means to be a Black woman or a woman in this country is going to change forever.  It’s the next generation that is really going to continue to move it forward.  So, I think that at the end of the day.  This will always be something that’s remembered.

Courtesy/CBS

Now on to Y&R, I wanted to tell you that these performances that you gave that recently aired were just great.  I always love it when they give you the ball.  How did you feel about the scenes and the storyline, where we learn the deep pain and hurt of Amanda’s childhood and the truth from her mother?

MISHAEL:  I was so excited to play it because for me, I really love telling human stories.  I love diving into that part of myself, and I really know that a huge part of why I am an actor is because I just have this outpouring level of empathy for every life that’s lived.  When I talk to people, and they tell me their stories, I want to take it on because I want to show that beautiful side of humanity.  So being given this story, I wanted to be very careful with it, because I knew that this is a reality for a lot of people.  I also thought about the fact that twin stories have always been done before, paternity stories have been done before, but I have to make sure that it comes from a truly honest place inside of me and a truly empathetic place.  I was excited to take on the challenge to be true to myself, and be true to my artist, and just find the beauty and the honesty in this real human story.

Courtesy/CBS

Ptosha Storey, who played your on-screen mother, Naya, was amazing in the scenes with you.  What was it like working with her and the gravity of it, where this woman is basically unapologetic that she didn’t want her children and she gave them up, and she did not sugar-coat it.

MISHAEL:  Ptosha was amazing.  I loved working with her.  We really got to kind of know each other a little bit.  She has such an interesting story about coming to LA to pursue acting, taking a break from it, (and I don’t want to speak for her), but then really going full-throttle right now when Black, female characters are being played, and she’s getting an opportunity to get back out there and do what she loves to do.  Just listening to her story was so inspiring to me. We had a true respect for each other when we got on the stage, and I think we made some art.

Photo: JPI

It was almost like watching a two-person play in those scenes.  What did Amanda feel at this point?  Was she hoping that her mother would say, “I loved you.  I wanted you?”  Was she hoping for a different outcome in her head?

MISHAEL:  I think anybody who goes into a search for their parents is hoping for a positive outcome.  I think for her, it was heartbreaking to hear that if Naya could go back and do it all over again, she would have made the same choices, and also knowing that those choices really impacted Amanda’s life in an incredible way.  I don’t think that all of it has come out yet.  I think a lot of the pain and hurt that she had to go through as a child, and the loneliness that she had to go through as a child, and hearing from a mother that she would put you back in that situation because it was more comfortable for her, and the level of selfishness is hard to take. Then there is the anger and everything that would come out of hearing that from your biological mother.  It’s funny because the way that those scenes were scripted, there was no stage direction, which to me, I love, because a lot times it will say like, “in this moment she is going to get a little angry,” or, “in that moment she is going to be sad,” but for those scenes, for some reason (and they were really juicy scenes) they really didn’t give much direction. I appreciated that because then it really allowed me to really just make the scene what I thought it was and just really live in the moment.  I know this was a roundabout way to answer the question, but yes, it was very heartbreaking because nobody expects that somebody would say that to them.

Photo: JPI

It was just so heartbreaking.  I kept thinking, “Maybe she’ll…” but no, Naya just stood her ground on it even though Amanda grew up in a foster home.  She wasn’t the “chosen” twin either!

MIHAEL:  No, and she was never chosen, and I think that’s an interesting thing that you said because she was never chosen, and I then even to this day, as a grown woman, she still isn’t chosen, and that I think is heartbreaking.  It’s an interesting thing because I do happen to have a bit of a personal experience with this.  My father wasn’t in the foster system, but he was raised… kind of farmed out to two aunts as a young child and didn’t really get to have a relationship with his parents until he was older, and with his mother, until he was in his 20s.  So, it was so fascinating watching my father.  I just remember always looking up to him and thinking he was so strong, and so powerful, and never cared about what anybody thought, and because of his upbringing, it made him a very driven person, very much like Amanda, but there was a weird sense of wanting to be good enough when his father was around, or when people talked about his father.  It was very fascinating for me to watch that.  It was like I would see my father almost turn into a child again, just wanting that love.  I think it’s because that is so organic to who we are as human beings that it just never goes away, that need to know that your parents love you, that there are two people in this world who no matter what will be there for you, and they will love you.  That’s a hard reality to come to when you realize that’s not true.  I think that’s something that’s really hard for the human spirit to let go of.

Photo: MMorganIG

Yes, and I think what you are saying is also true that you realize as an adult that we are so deeply affected by our childhood and how it plays into our choices, or how we perceive things that happen in our lives.  So, when you think of that, and because you’re a mom, doesn’t it make you feel even more that you want to do right by your kids? That you don’t want to do anything to screw them up in their later years?

MISHAEL:  Yes, it’s true.  It does make you want to be the best person for them and the best example, especially the best example for love.  You want them to feel accepted, and appreciated, and proud, and you want them to know that you’re proud of them.  You want to do everything you can because you think of every single person you may have met who felt like their parents didn’t love them enough, and you want to do every single thing to make sure that your child doesn’t feel that way.  I talked to one of my friends, and they’re like, “My parents never told me that they were proud of me,” and I’m like, “Alright!  Well, Niam, I am so proud of you!” Every day, “I am proud of you!  I am proud!”  It’s like every day I better make sure to tell my kids that I am proud of them, and that I love them.  I was talking to Bryton James about this because I had a disciplinary moment with my son, and you wonder if they are going to take it the way that you take it, but at the end of the day, that might get burned into his memory as “the worst thing that my mom ever did to me,” and meanwhile I thought it was a life lesson that I think he learned.  You kind of have to get rid of that fear that you are going to screw them up because I think it doesn’t matter.  You’re either going to love them too much, or you’re not going to love them enough, and you just have to do the best that you can, and you just hope that it’s good enough.

Photo:JPI

Now, you were brilliant as Hilary on Y&R and had this amazing story send-off, and then you came back to the show as Amanda, a new character.  How has it been to try to define Amanda as her own character without the ‘Hilary-isms’, or does it not matter anymore?  Do you feel you have made the distinction for yourself that they are two very different characters?

MISHAEL:  I feel like now they just are different.  It was active choices that I was making in the beginning, and it was important for me in the beginning.  That’s why, for me, when I was bringing Amanda in, I was trying to stay very steady in my tone and how I spoke because Hilary was very, very up and down, and everything was all over the place.  So, for me, that was my beginning moment, just really focusing on how Amanda spoke and how she conducted herself. I can’t change the way that I look, but I feel that the way that I speak and the way that I carry myself will naturally start to define the character.  After a while, when that becomes more second nature, I feel like more of the character comes through … more of how she is and how she takes things in.  That’s just sort of explaining a bit of my process. It’s just the weirdest situation that I never thought I would ever be in, but I definitely feel like a different character for sure!  I do feel like I know who Amanda is now.  In the beginning, when I read the script, all I heard was Hilary.  I really had to think about how I was going to say things because I didn’t want it to sound like Hilary, and now when I read the script, I see Amanda.  I don’t hear Hilary anymore.  It’s become easier for me now to lean more into the role and get more comfortable with it.

Photo:JPI

Amanda had said to her mother that she was also robbed of her sister.  How does that play into her whole psyche?  She does know that Devon was deeply in love with her sister, and now she has feelings for him too.  Did she want to meet her sister?  Does she feel robbed of that?

MISHAEL:  She feels very much robbed of that.  For me, it was very important that the time when she discovered that Hilary was her sister and that Hilary was gone, that I’m playing that loss properly.  It was important for me because if you couldn’t believe that Amanda’s heart is truly breaking for her sister, then you can’t believe anything else that’s coming afterwards.  This is a really defining moment for me as an actor playing two characters on the show.  It was really important, leaning into the fact that I had a twin, and I’ll have a connection to a person who doesn’t exist anymore, and really letting that break my heart, and break Amanda’s heart.  Once the audience believes that, then they can really believe that Amanda is a different character.  Then, our amazing fans will start to just buy into it, and they will figure it out, and they will work it out, and they will wrap their heads around it, but for me, it was that they had to believe that Amanda’s heart is truly broken for Hilary, otherwise we can’t hook them.  Amanda and Hilary have to become two separate characters in people’s minds.

Right.  So, after the confrontation with her mother, she runs to Devon, and she is torn up, and he consoles her.  This week he asked her out on a date.  She likes this guy, right? 

MISHAEL:  Yeah, I think she does!  He’s the first person that she met when she came to town, and I think she’s always been impressed by how he treated her even when he hated her, and the more that she learned of him, the more she became impressed by who Devon was, and his patience with all of this. In seeing his vulnerability with Hilary, and everything that he went through, and then seeing his heart being broken because of Elena and Nate, I think all of it together is starting to give these two characters reasons to be okay with exploring something that may seem strange to other people, but you can’t control who you love sometimes.

Photo: JPI

Hilary and Devon were such a hugely popular couple.  Do you feel pressure to hit lighting in a bottle, twice?

MISHAEL:  It’s really hilarious because we’re the same people!  Yeah, there is a little bit of pressure because you do wonder if you’re going to be able to create the same magic, especially because Bryton and I have known each other for so long, and we know each other so well now.  Looking back at some of the Hilary and Devon scenes, there is something that is so interesting about it and fun about it because I think Bryton and I were just getting to know each other at the same time.  So, wondering if we are going to be able to recreate that and just make it feel fun and fresh, I think is the worry or the challenge.  I think we will figure it out.  Bryton and I were talking, and the one thing that is missing, or the one thing that we have to get to in terms of the underbelly of Amanda and Devon’s attraction is that Amanda is more like Devon than Hilary ever was.  It’s almost like Devon realizing that the whole journey with Hilary was meant to happen just so that he could meet Amanda.

Isn’t Amanda going to be kind of worried that he was so in love with Hilary and the way that she looked…

MISHAEL:  Well, she doesn’t need to worry because Hilary is dead anyway.  It’s not like she’s coming back!  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Since the last time you played an on-screen relationship, Bryton is with Brytni Sarpy in real-life, and Brytni is on the show now, and there is all of that.  What has that been like working with Brytni?

MISHAEL:  Oh, I’m so Canadian!  As soon as I got back to the show, I was like, “I’m so sorry,” and she was like, “Why are you sorry?”  I said, “I just feel very sorry that I’m here.  You guys have your real-life love thing going on, and your on-screen love… I feel weird.  I’m happy to be back on the show, but I’m like breaking up the party!”  She’s like, “No!  It’s fun!  It’s fine!  Maybe we’ll be rivals!”  I’m like, “Yeah, okay it’ll be fun!”

I can see a classic soap bitch-fight on the horizon on Y&R!

MISHAEL:  Brytni has been awesome about it.  That’s been great.  We don’t know where it’s going to go, but it’s going to be fun.  They’re also playing with Devon’s love for Elena still.  They still have a pull.  Devon is still looking at Elena.  So, I think it’s going to be interesting either way.

Photo: JPI

We are going to have the fan wars again for the couples!

MISHAEL:  That’s even more fun!  I always said I’d rather people be fighting for me to be with this person and that person as opposed to just always with one person because then to me, I kind of wonder, “Is it just this one actor who makes me better?”  I want to be an actor who makes everyone better!  That I can work off of anybody and get that chemistry or that thing that audiences are looking for, that’s what I really challenge myself to do.

Photo: JPI

On February 3rd, it’ll be the second anniversary of Kristoff  St. John’s death, which is hard to believe that it will have been 2 years already.  I keep remembering when I first met you.  Kristoff and you were on The Price is Right, but it was also a crossover for your characters, and you were the new girl on Y&R.  Do you still feel his presence at Y&R?

MISHAEL:  A few days ago, I had asked Bryton, who is s actually in Kristoff’s old dressing room, “Do you ever feel Kristoff in there?  In your dressing room?” and he’s like, “No, not really.  Definitely not in my dressing room, but on set sometimes.”  Even though he’s not here, it’s like he’s still with us because you still see him in pictures and sometimes that happens while you are on set doing a scene.  One time, I was on set doing a scene with Christel Khalil (Lily), and I saw a picture of Kristoff in the background, and it’s just kind of a reminder that I think he is always going to be here in terms of his impact on me and my time on the show.  He means a lot to me because I think I am the artist I am largely because of his influence, and how he really took me under his wing and made me feel so comfortable.  He was such a light, and he made acting so fun, but he always had your back as an acting partner and as friend, and I miss him a lot.

Me too.  He was just a wonderful actor too, when you look back on some of the work.

MISHAEL:  Oh my gosh, yes.

Photo:JPI

What does Amanda think of Naya’s other daughter, Imani (Leigh Ann Rose)?

MISHAEL:  She’s just irritated by Imani because she basically got to live the life that Amanda should have had essentially. To watch her be up on her high horse to Amanda, it’s laughable because the amount of hoops and obstacles that Amanda has had to go through to get to where she is standing today, somebody like Imani is just a complete joke to her! In Amanda’s mind, she is who she is just because of the opportunities that she was given and because of the family that she was born into.  It was complete luck, and it had nothing to do with hard work.  In Amanda’s eyes, everything that she is and every ounce of who she is, is because of her determination, and the choices that she made, and the obstacles that she overcame.  So, the way that Amanda looks at Imani is like she is just a person who she doesn’t even think could fathom how insignificant Amanda thinks that she is.  There is a deep-rooted resentment for Imani because I just think that Amanda has been through so much.

Would you like to have more scenes between Amanda and Naya and Imani?

MISHAEL:  Yes.I want more scenes with both of them!  Both of them are so amazing.  So, I’d love to work with both Imani/Leigh-Ann and Naya/Ptosha again.

Photo:JPI

What can you say to the fans to look forward to?

MISHAEL:  I think I would say that Amanda coming to Genoa City was a really big surprise, and I think that those surprises will continue … ff we want to be as vague as possible! I think there are a lot of things to look forward to because this relationship with Devon is definitely going, and I think it will be interesting to watch how Bryton and I figure that out, which will be fun!

Photo: JPI

Big surprises? Hmm.  Are you going to tell me that there are four of you? That Naya really gave birth to quadruplets … and you are about to take on two more roles?

MISHAEL:  Well, you never know!  That’s all I’ll say!

So, what did you think of Mishael’s recent performances where Amanda met her birth mother? Are you rooting for Amanda and Devon to wind up together, or Devon and Elena? What have you thought of Amanda Sinclair vs. Hilary Curtis Hamilton?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Watch the Replay: GH, DAYS, Y&R, B&B & OLTL Stars at Michael Fairman’s Virtual Birthday Party for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 Relief Fund

Earlier this week on Monday night, several of the stars of General Hospital, Days of our Lives, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and One Life to Live, took part in a virtual livestream “party” for Michael Fairman’s 60th birthday.

The event was held virtually to help performers in need who have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic by letting viewers know where to make a donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Photo: ABC, NBC, CBS

Participating throughout the 90 minute livestream were: The Young and the Restless, Jason Thompson, Sharon Case, and Christian LeBlanc, General Hospital’s Maurice Benard, Laura Wright, Wes Ramsey, and Chloe Lanier, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Katherine Kelly Lang, Days of our Lives’ Rob Scott Wilson, Eric Martsolf, Galen Gering, Arianne Zucker, Shawn Christian, Santa Barbara favorite, A Martinez, One Life to Live’s Kristen Alderson and Eddie Alderson, and Studio City’s Sean Kanan.

You can catch the replay of the birthday benefit event below or on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

Throughout the evening, the actors shared stories of how they got their SAG card, played a game of Michael’s trivia, and revealed stories about themselves and other “party” guests in a wonderful display of community and camaraderie at all went down live!

Since March of 2o2o, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has given out more than $6.2 million in emergency aid to over 6,500 SAG-AFTRA performers and their families facing hardship and uncertainty during this pandemic. Thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists have found themselves in dire need of assistance to help pay their rent, buy groceries, cover health care premiums and other bills.  You can still make a donation of any dollar amount to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 relief fund here. https://members.sagfoundation.org/donate 

Now, check it out below, and let us know if you enjoyed the virtual birthday party livestream via the comment section.

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B&B’s Matthew Atkinson chats with Michael Fairman about the wild ride of the Thomas/Hope Mamnequin storyline currently on The Bold and the Beautiful.Leave A Comment

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